Scott Otto turned the West Allis Hale football program around almost immediately. He hopes to do the same at Greenfield. Otto was named head football coach of the Hustlin' Hawks last week after spending five years as head coach of the Huskies.
"Hopefully we can repeat what we did at Hale," Otto said. "It was just an unbelievable opportunity for me to come (to Greenfield). I had to do what was best for me and this is a neat opportunity for me to advance my career."
Otto resigned from Hale as head coach and as a physical education and health teacher in November. He was hired by the Greenfield school district as the facilities coordinator in January. Around the same time, Kevin Murphy resigned as head football coach.
"I knew I had to move on (from Hale) and I took a leap of faith," Otto said. "I didn't have this job lined up. I didn't have the head football job lined up. It just happened to work out."
At Hale, Otto was 26-23 overall, including 20-15 in the Greater Metro Conference with four winning seasons. He was named NOW Newspapers' All-Suburban coach of the year in 2005. Prior to Otto's arrival, Hale had not had a winning season in 15 years. He hopes success follows him to Greenfield.
"I'm not saying that I'm the reason why Hale turned it around; I was a small part of," Otto said. "They had 15 straight losing seasons and we changed the culture. I see the same thing here. Greenfield didn't have 15 straight losing seasons, but they were 0-9 last year and the kids are hungry to turn it around. I hope to lead them down the path."
Greenfield was 10-40 in Murphy's 4 1/2 years, including 9-34 in the Woodland Conference, and has not made the playoffs since 2001, the third-longest drought in the NOW coverage area.
"There's some talent here, no doubt about it," Otto said. "It was the same situation at Hale. They had talented athletes, they just weren't playing football. We're looking to increase our numbers.
"One thing that drew me to Greenfield was it's a one-high school town. Nothing against West Allis - Hale and Central are awesome. But Greenfield is a one-high school town where you can work with the youth program, talk with the coaches and know what you're getting. You don't have to share. And the makeup at Greenfield is similar to West Allis: hard-working, blue-collared kids. Those are the type of kids I can relate to and like working with."
Otto, whose office is located in the high school, said the school district's new facilities, which include a new football field, were a huge draw for him.
"The facilities are amazing. It's very exciting and I wanted to get in on the ground level," said Otto, who was a teacher for 11 years.
Greenfield athletic director Rich Lemanski said there were 10 candidates for the position, three of whom interviewed. He said he was awed by Otto's knowledge and experience.
"He's got excellent people skills and is very confident," Lemanski said. "He came across as so confident that he can deliver a program to get our young people engaged in his philosophy. These kids are going to play hard for him."
Murphy will remain with the football program as the varsity's defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach.
Hale athletic director Steve Seston said he is in the final stages to find Otto's replacement. He said he had more than 30 candidates and has whittled the list down to five.
"We're looking for a candidate who can continue what has been going on here the last few years and take us to the next level," Seston said. "Scott took a program that was down and turned it around. He got numbers up, had good command of the weight room and was dedicated."
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